Upon learning recently of the pending closure of our local post office I wrote the following letter of thanks to the couple who had run the post office for many years.
“I am writing to express my sincere thanks to you and your staff over the years for the kind service you have provided to the community in which you have worked all these years. I was sad to learn the post office would be relocated to another site at the end of the month. I was also sad to learn that you both would not be moving to the new site. I am sure this will be a loss to the community. I wish you and your family well for the future and hope that it brings you all that you hope for.
It would be remiss of me not to also offer deep gratitude on behalf of my late father, Prof. Syed Hasan Askari, for the kindness with which you treated him and helped him as he collected his pension and helped him in dispatching books and letters he was sending to people home and abroad. Those that had the opportunity to meet him in everyday life, taxi drivers, shop keepers, his barber and yourselves at the post office have always recalled him with fondness. This has been one of the great sources of comfort for me in helping me deal with his absence over the years. He passed away in early 2008. To see the faces he would have seen recollect him and somehow recall him again is deeply moving if somewhat un-noticeable to any passer-by. To meet him again in the memories of others has always been very special to me and often given me pause for thought and in doing so, for that transitory moment, he feels not to have departed at all as a tearful smile comes to pass. Such is life, behind the everydayness of life we all are living other lives, inner lives perhaps, or inner moments which are to be felt within oneself. Therefore, on a personal note I wanted to thank you in this regard very much.
To serve people in the manner in which I have observed during my visits to your post office I think needs special recognition. To that end I think the qualities of patience, a calm voice, soft speech, a smile, a respect for all people and a sense of treating people fairly shine through for me and go far beyond mere customer service. In my experience one could only display such virtues consistently over the years because such virtues are an inherent part of your nature and goodwill as people. I think in a microcosm such virtues as you have displayed we could all benefit from.
At times I am sure it may have felt like over the years the whole world has somehow walked through those doors and that for me is a wonderful thought. All the various cultures and nationalities of humanity wanting your help to send letters or parcels of kindness to their loved ones. Each coming through those door with their own hopes and dreams. Equally from your post office to the world messages of warmth and love have been sent, from presents to postcards. One can only wonder with what joy they have been received.
However, we know the world is changing and such messages no longer needed to be hand delivered when an instant message from one’s telephone will suffice. Whilst this has tremendous advantages in communicating I cannot help but feel a sense of loss that another kind of communication is fading. Namely, the act of sitting down to write a letter, to take the time to visit a post office and there to encounter another person, to meet humanity in its everydayness.
This to me is part of the secret fabric of life. That a stranger will walk in to a post office, ask for help from a person they have never met before behind the counter to send a much awaited letter to a loved one waiting somewhere in the world watching each day if the post today will deliver the letter they left in your safe hands for dispatch.
It is this act of “handing over in trust”, a much cherished message between strangers, is to me one of the hopes I place my hope in for humanity at this present hour. We never know how our everyday act affects others so beautifully and it is also to that unknown and perhaps unknowable aspect of your work I wish to pay tribute and hope the kindness you have shown others shines as light on your path in your life ahead.
With every good wish.